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The best big-screen bargains from Sharp

Sharp produces LED sets in a variety of screen sizes, all the way down to 32 inches. However, the sweet spot it's carved out for itself sits squarely among big screens, 60 inches and larger. That's reflected in its LE857U series. Available models include the 60-inch Sharp Aquos LC-60LE857U (Est. $2,000) , 70-inch Sharp Aquos LC-70LE857U (Est. $3,300) and 80-inch Sharp Aquos LC-80LE857U (Est. $5,500) .

Except for Sharp's THX-certified UHD TV, the 70-inch LC-70UD1U (Est. $8,000) , the LE857 is the company's flagship offering. Of course these sets are packed with goodies, including active 3D and smart features. On the downside, Sharp's SmartCentral platform is somewhat more limited than what some other manufacturers offer, and pales in comparison to the most diverse suites like Samsung's Smart Hub. On the plus side of the ledger, Sharp offers a couple of features are exclusive to its sets. One is a wallpaper mode that displays a user-selected image when the set is off. The wallpaper mode might not sound like that big of a deal, but it does help the set blend into a room better than a very large black screen normally would; think large photo or painting versus a large, black rectangle. Another exclusive feature is Aquos Advantage Live, an online technical support resource that includes the ability to have tech support staffers access the TV's settings directly to diagnose and fix issues.

Reports say picture quality is very good, but it doesn't escape all criticism. The LE857 uses Sharp's somewhat controversial Quattron technology, which adds a yellow pixel to the red, blue and green pixels found in other TVs. Purists complain that the fourth pixel yields inaccurate color performance, which some reviewers note in tests. When watching actual pictures rather than test patterns, however, reviewers and users largely admire what's on the screen. Black levels don't match those on the very best TVs, but don't fall that far short. Experts say off-angle viewing is particularly limited with the LE857. That could be an issue in the smallest screen size, but from a practical point of view, finding a centered seating position in front of a 70-inch, let alone 80-inch screen, is only a challenge if you are hosting an unusually large crowd.

For those looking for a big screen with a small price tag, we see some good feedback for sets in Sharp's LE650U series, notably our Best Reviewed Sharp Aquos LC-70LE650U (Est. $1,850) . It's not the cheapest 70-inch LED TV out there -- that honor goes to the also-worth-considering Vizio E701i-A3 (Est. $1,700) -- but it's close.

Neither LCD TV will thrill purists, but the Sharp TV has a decided edge in picture quality according to CNET, which tests both. Better -- though still not world-beating -- black levels are why, although reviewers grouse that color accuracy isn't perfect. The set lacks 3D, but does offer the full Sharp SmartCentral suite, Aquos Advantage Live and the aforementioned wallpaper mode. The matte screen makes the set a good choice for well-lit rooms, but does rob the image of some of the pop glossy screen treatments can provide. Available models include the 60-inch Sharp Aquos LC-60LE650U (Est. $1,200) and 80-inch Sharp Aquos LC-80LE650U (Est. $3,500) .

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Sharp LC-70LE650U 70-inch Aquos HD 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV
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from Amazon.com
New: $2,499.99   
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Average Customer Review:  
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Sharp LC-60LE650U 60-inch Aquos HD 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,799.99   
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Average Customer Review:  
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Sharp LC-80LE650U 80-inch Aquos HD 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV
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from Amazon.com
New: $4,999.99   
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Average Customer Review:  
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Sharp LC-70LE857 70-inch Aquos Quattron 1080p 240Hz LED 3D HDTV (2013 Model)
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from Amazon.com
New: $3,999.99   
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Sharp LC-70UD1U 70-inch Aquos 4K Ultra HD 2160p 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
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from Amazon.com
New: $4,999.99   
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